Chicken Kabuli (Murgh Kabuli)

“This mild and flavourful dish comes from Julie Sahni's 1980 book, Classic Indian Cookery. She adapted it from a dish served at the Akbar India Restaurant in New York City (which I think is now closed). I am posting this for some former exchange students who are going through severe Kabuli withdrawal. I often make this a day in advance. A few comments. I think Julie Sahni writes some of the clearest recipes on the planet -- and she does so without being patronising. Check out her books (and note that I have abbreviated some instructions slightly). Also, I wonder if Kabuli means the recipe is influenced by dishes from Kabul, Afghanistan. Finally, I have never timed this accurately, so the prep time is a bit of a guess.”
1hr 15mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered (about 375 grams/12 ounces)
  • 250 g plain yogurt (8 ounces)
  • 180 ml vegetable oil (6 ounces)
  • 1 12 kg chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cubed (3 pounds)
  • 12 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons blanched almonds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 12 teaspoon fennel, ground
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 125 ml double cream (4 ounces)
  • 2 -3 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 4 -5 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (coriander)


  1. Buzz the garlic, ginger, tomatoes and yogurt in a food processor until they are a fine purée.
  2. Combine the oil and the puréed mixture in a large heavy-bottomed pan, preferably one with a non-stick surface. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and cook -- stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning -- until the mixture reduces to a thick sauce and the fat begins to separate (about 15 minutes). It splatters some toward the end, so stay alert.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring rapidly, until they lose their pink colour and begin to sear slightly (about 5 minutes), but do not let them brown.
  4. Add the mace, nutmeg, almonds, cardamon, cumin, coriander, fennel and salt, and mix well.
  5. Reduce heat, cover the pan and let the chicken cook in its own juices for 15 minutes.
  6. Uncover and continue cooking for another 15 minutes (or until the chicken is fork tender).
  7. Stir in the cream, black pepper and cilantro/coriander leaves, and turn off heat.
  8. Let the dish rest, covered, for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, reheat thoroughly, check for salt and serve.

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